July 29, 2014
The phrase, “I’ll try you on your cell,” is quickly becoming obsolete when it comes to messages left on landline answering machines. Not only are most American households turning away from landlines in general, but those remaining that still use them are starting make the switch to modernized versions of the now-archaic, traditional home phone. Some are even combining their home phone and mobile phone into a single smart device. But what’s all this about? Why does anyone care about having a home phone anymore? There have been a lot of developments recently in this realm…
Last year, Panasonic revealed their new Android-powered home phone, imaginatively named the KX-PRX150. This phone has all of the features of a smart mobile phone (internet access, apps, etc.), but also gives the user the option of calling from either a mobile or landline platform. Such options! The company advertises this 2-in-1 smart landline phone as “a single phone for indoor and outdoor use.” But it’s really more than just “outdoors,” it’s mobile! When the user is away from home, they can use the device as a mobile 3G/GSM system. When they return home, they have the option of using either the mobile or the landline system to place calls. This smart home phone also notifies the user of any calls or messages they might have missed on the landline while they were away.
Panasonic’s Android landline phone isn’t the first of its kind either. British Telco Company (BT) has a “Home SmartPhone S.” Otherwise known as the BT6500, this phone acts purely as a landline, but with Android features. It’s smart, but not mobile; users cannot place calls outside the home. Even without mobility, the benefits of the technology isn’t lost on users. It’s seen enough success that a myriad of other companies have followed suit with their own versions of smart landline phones.
As nifty as these devices are, it’s interesting how long it took for the reveal of smart home phones on the market. For years, landlines were the primary means of electronic communication; however with all the advances in mobile phone technology, now more than two in every five American adults live in households without a landline telephone. So why are phone companies continuing to push the development of home phone technology?
For starters, the smart landline phone offers some useful features that typical landlines, and cell phones, lack. When you’re at home with the Android home phone, you can choose the most affordable means of placing a call—landline or mobile—without having to pick up a different device depending on your choice. The smart landline phone is also more portable and can be carried with the user. This prevents the chaotic search for the phone around the house when it begins to ring (something anyone with a cordless landline is pretty familiar with).
While the apps, incoming call barring, message notifications, and all of the other Android-powered features on the smart landline are neat, they’re not entirely unique from the features found on a typical Android cell phone. So why have both? Well, for the 52.8% of American adults that have both a landline and a wireless phone, they can finally stop juggling two devices. Now they no longer have to decide between living without a landline or continuing to wrestle with two different phones. As for the 6.9% of households that only have a landline phone and no mobile, this smart home phone will aid the user in catching up with modern society.
Fittingly, the look of the typical Android home phone resembles what it aims to achieve—the merging of a modern cell phone and an outdated land line. While the device clearly has the size and look of a smart mobile device, the design of the product is lacking a sleek modern touch (much like the outmoded landline). This is likely to improve as the technology continues to catch on more and more.
Now that the antiquated landline is no longer held back by its cumbersome history of cords and wires, these new smart home phones are giving the technology a dramatic boost in modernity. The only question is, is it too late to revive the landline and its outdated reputation? Only time will tell.